Girl and Boy become Mom and Dad

With our lovely and eventful honeymoon now over, Lee and I set up house in Frisco, Texas just north of Dallas.  We had a sweet little third floor apartment that I loved not only for its charm but also for the fact that I could vacuum the entire place without once having to unplug the vacuum cleaner.  Big bonus!

When we returned from our honeymoon, the job that we thought was lined up for Lee had fallen through.  But, thankfully, another job opened up immediately as a sales rep for Hewlitt Packard.  He was going to make 36 grand a year and we were certain we were rolling in the dough.

I commenced to freelance writing and editing.  I had a gig as a co-author with Joe White on an upcoming devotional and I also had several contacts who threw ghostwriting opportunities my way.  Because these took a lot of time, I decided to forgo the traditional 9 to 5 job and get something with more flexible hours.

Enter WOGA – the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy.  As a former gymnast, I had the experience needed to work at this high class facility.  As a russian speaker, I had an immediate in with my bosses, Valery Liukin and Evgeny Marchenko.  So every afternoon, I reported to work and while I coached my level four and five girls, I had the unique privilage of watching a then 13 year old Carly Patterson and 10 year old Nastia Liukin train.  They were amazing even as little girls.  Lee and I also forged some wonderful relationships at WOGA and every time I return to Dallas I try to visit and say hello to my dear friends.

In addition to WOGA, Lee and I attended Chuck Swindoll’s Church where, every Sunday, we sat next to Cynthia Swindoll and soaked up the most amazing teaching.  To say those first years of our marriage were blessed is an understatement.  From our friends at church and at work, we have nothing but fond and sweet thoughts of those days.

But, as happens in life, we experienced our first blow in 2002 when Lee was fired from his job.  We were devastated, shocked and scared.  We loved our life in Dallas and didn’t want to leave, but after four months of looking for work, we had to make the difficult decision to pack up and move.  Lee got a job in St. Louis and we moved in with my parents.


In October, 2002, Lee and I had a little marital conversation.  It went something like this:

Kelli: “I’m ready to have a baby.”

Lee: *crickets*

Kelli: “What do you think?”

And thus Lee laid out a long list of reasons why we should, in fact, NOT have a baby.  They included things like – “We aren’t making very much money,” – “We don’t have a place to live,” – “You just started a new job.”

“Let’s talk about this again in six months,” Lee suggested to which I agreed.

One week later I found out I was pregnant.

So I did what any reasonable wife would do with such amazing news.  I called my husband at work and broke the news over the phone.

After the initial shock wore off, we were both very excited…and terrified.  But look how cute we were:


We did find a house in January of 2003 and spent the next seven months gutting and rehabbing it.  Because there’s nothing less stressful than trying to rehab a house when you have a pregnant hormonal wife breathing down your neck…


On July 10, 2003, after five hours of intense labor, Sloan Alexander came screaming into the world.  He was beautiful and fat and sweet and perfect and we could not have been more elated.


We had the house finished enough to bring Sloan home to it a week after he was born.  We’re still in that home today.  It seems to have gotten smaller over the years, but we love it there.

When Sloan was a little over a year old, we decided to give him a sibling.  Little did we know it would take almost a year to get pregnant the second time around.  It was a very discouraging time for me and while I know that many couples struggle for much, much longer than we did, it gave me a small glimpse of the heartache and frustration of infertility.

Finally, though, after much heartache and prayer, we conceived our second child.  When I was pregnant with Sloan, Lee was adamant about finding out the sex before he was born.  I, however, wanted to wait.  So he agreed that we could be surprised the second time around and true to his word, we did not find out the gender.

We just assumed it would be a boy.  There had only been one girl in roughly five generations of Stuarts so we didn’t think we’d change that trend.  I washed up all the baby boy clothes and lovingly placed them in the nursery.  We chose the name Sawyer Brayden and we waited to meet Sloan’s baby brother. (Sloan, incidentally, though only two years old at the time, insisted that he would be getting a sister.)

On my due date, February 2, 2006, my water broke at 4:20 am.  At 6:19 our daughter, Katya Rose, was born.  That was a good day.

Katya Rose 037

After Tia, we agreed to wait a bit before having a third child.  The only snag came when Tia was 13 months old and we deiceded to take our first vacation alone together since our honeymoon.  Four weeks later I held a positive pregnancy test in my trembling hands.

Lee was leaving that afternoon to visit his family in Arkansas for the weekend.  I made the mistake of telling him before he left.  He was shocked and his initial reaction was anger.  In fact, we barely spoke all weekend.  I was sick with worry and felt like somehow I had done something wrong.  It was a bad weekend.

I even called a friend nearly in tears to get a little reassurance that we were going to be okay and we hadn’t detrimentally harmed our older children by forcing another sibling upon them so quickly.

Thankfully, though, Lee came home with a fresh perspective and calmed my anxious heart and, with a little time, we grew excited about this new babe.  Then, at ten weeks, I rushed to the ER, bleeding heavily, sure I was miscarrying.  We discovered the next day that the amniotic sac had torn away from the uterine wall.  The doctor used words like “spontaneous abortion” and “D & C” and I feared like never before.  Because as he said those things I was staring at a tiny, beating heart on the ultrasound machine.  I could see arms and a facial profile and all I could think was that if my body failed, this life would end.

It didn’t end, though.  After a moneth of bedrest, the issue corrected itself and on December 16, 2007, Landon Lee was born after what seemed an unending labor and delivery.  (I was in the hospital a whopping two and a half hours before he was born – my longest stay in the delivery room ever!)


And here we sit – a week away from our tenth anniversary, three children sleeping soundly one room over.  We look a little older than we did the day we walked down the aisle and our lives are definately filled with more crazy.

But I wouldn’t trade that crazy for all the riches in the world.  Especially because these three faces…


Are the product of what began on the Saturday afternoon in July of 2000.  From where I sit, it’s been one heck of a decade.

To read our entire love story – click here.

I’m looking for Jiminy Cricket

jiminy_140x143Disney makes it look so easy.  You wish upon a falling star and anything your heart desires will come to you.  But even Jiminy Cricket realized that it took more than wishing for a dream to come true.  You have to listen to your heart and follow.  Let your conscience be your guide.

Of course, I try not to take theological guidance or direction from an animated cricket, but I do believe there is a nugget of truth buried in there.  But from my point of view as a believer, I believe my Jiminy Cricket my conscience to be the Holy Spirit.  It is this still small Voice, the Voice of God Himself, that I must listen to.  And it is this still small Voice that I often ignore, or worse yet, simply don’t hear at all.

Life is noisy.  Bills, responsibilities, work, commitments – all of these contribute to the noise.  And sometimes the noise gets so loud that it’s difficult to hear the Voice.  But there are moments when the Voice breaks through the noise.  Usually these moments are relatively quiet moments – in the still of the morning, or late at night, when the noise of life is in a brief slumber.  It’s in those moments that I’m reminded that wishing upon a star is not really going to get me far.  I might need to get up and start walking toward the star instead.

Lately, Lee and I have felt stirrings within us.  The moments come at different times for each of us, but the thoughts, dreams and ideas are the same.  Some of the stirrings require small, but meaningful, planning and action on our parts.  For those of you that know Lee and I well you know that planning isn’t, ahem, our strong suit.  We tend to fly by the seats of our pants and, while we always have the best of intentions, this means that many big plans get dropped along the way.  We’re working on this.

Other stirrings, however, will require a significant amount of prayer, hard work, diligence and faith.  And the faith part?  It’s a doozy.  I have personally never been much of a skeptic.  Faith, in it’s simplest form, comes fairly easy to me.  I’m not one to question or doubt.  In some ways, this is a very good trait.  But other times I have to remind myself that it’s necessary to think critically and not operate on blind faith.  In other words, I sometimes have to make myself question the concept of faith so that I can better defend my faith.  If that makes any sense at all….

All that to say, some of the stirrings within my own soul require a depth of faith that I haven’t yet grasped.  A complete, life altering, Here Am I Lord type of faith.  It’s the type of faith that may require me to be uncomfortable.  I may have to sacrifice some of my comforts.  I might even need to let go of some dreams and desires.

Can I do it?

I recently read this post from Shawn Groves.  It only further spoke to my already softening heart.  If my life were a home movie, what would it look like?  Hmmm…

So I’m not being totally cryptic, we’re not considering selling all our possessions and moving to far east Siberia to live in a cabin and start a slavic revival.  No need to worry!  We are, however, trying to open ourselves up to the What If’s. 

What if God called us to far east Siberia?

What if God called us to serve in missions?

What if God called us to go serve a meal to the homeless in downtown St. Louis?

What if God called us to adopt a child?

What if God called us to have another child?

What if God called us to rise in the early hours of the morning and pray over our children instead of sleeping in?

What if God called us to move to small town USA simply to minister to our neighbors?

What if God wants us to stay right where we are and continue to serve those around us quietly and effectively?

What if God wants me to drive my smokin’ hot minivan with pride all the while pouring His Truth’s into my children’s hearts as I shuttle them from here to there? 

The bottom line is this: We want to be ready for the What If’s, no matter what they might be.  Lee and I each have hopes, dreams, desires and vision.  Some of them line up and will be easy to implement – some do not match entirely and will require joint prayer.  But we want to stop ignoring the whispers that have grown louder over the past few months.  We want to quit talking and start doing.  Which takes planning.

*sigh* If only Jiminy Cricket could serve as our family manager…